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Tesla Model S battery faults were known issue inside automaker, report says

The government has reportedly opened a safety investigation into the issue after leaked emails allegedly confirm Tesla was aware of a battery cooling issue.

2016 Tesla Model S 60
Tesla allegedly knew about the defect, but never reported it.
Emme Hall/Roadshow

Officials within Tesla reportedly knew of issues surrounding early Model S batteries and their cooling systems but did not report the defect to the proper regulatory agencies, according to leaked emails.

Business Insider reported last Thursday on the leaked emails that reportedly say faulty cooling tubes for the battery found their way to Tesla Model S vehicles between 2012 and 2016. According to the emails, Tesla ended its relationship with the particular Chinese supplier and began building the tubes itself. But, while it worked with the supplier, it installed the faulty components and sold the EVs anyway.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported the US government has now opened a safety investigation into the faulty cooling tubes. Documents are not available on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website, and the agency did not immediately return Roadshow's request for comment on the investigation. It's not clear if this issue is part of the same investigation into Tesla battery defects that the agency opened last year. The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed it's in the middle of its own investigation.

However, NHTSA told the newspaper it's "well aware" of the reports surrounding the allegedly bad cooling tubes. Owners report the cooling tubes leak and increase the risk of a fire. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Aside from battery woes, the Model S is subject to a separate investigation into failing touchscreens. Should the screen fail, it removes the car's backup camera.

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